What is a flexitarian and should I be one?
Chances are that you most likely know someone who has adopted a vegetarian lifestyle. And with veganism one of the fastest growing dietary preferences you may even know someone who is completely vegan. But there is also a new type of dietary approach out there, flexitarianism – the dietary approach which sees individuals mix veganism with a regular diet to gain the health benefits of a plant based diet without the dietary limitations of a full vegan or vegetarian approach.
There is no doubt there are numerous health benefits associated with a plant based diet – lower body weights, reduced risk of developing some types of cancer, reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes and a longer lifespan. For meat eaters though, who like and enjoy eating a varied diet that includes a range of proteins from animal sources including meat, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy, considering going cold turkey on all of these foods can simply be too much of a stretch for the average person.
And as part of a balanced diet, in which controlled portions of lean proteins are regularly consumed, good health can too be maintained. Where this tends to go wrong in modern life is that the types of proteins we consume are not as lean as they should be and our portions are too large. In Australia we are often consuming 2-3 x the amount of meat that is recommended and downing literally litres of milk from a high intake of milk based drinks including smoothies and coffee. The result is a diet that has too much animal food at the expense of nutrient rich, low calorie plant based foods.
Adopting a flexitarian approach is an easy way to strike a better nutritional balance – still enjoying your favourite meats, fish and dairy but having some time during the week when you focus a lot more on 100% plant based foods or if you like a day or two of vegetarian or vegan style eating. Not only does reducing our total intake of animal food have major benefits for the environment but our bodies benefit too from a diet high in fibre, vitamins and minerals and lower in calories, even if it just for a day or two each week.
So if you know that you overdo the protein and need to eat a lot more plant based foods how can you start without becoming a full vegetarian. An easy way to start is to commit to a meat free meal a couple of times each week – a soup, vegetable stir fry or pie or lentils or beans made into a curry or Mexican dish are all meat free, delicious meals. Next eat a lot more salad and vegetables as part of your daily diet – a vege juice in the morning, salad with your lunch and a few vegetable snacks is an easy way to plant up your diet. And finally look for protein rich plant based snacks – hommus, BOUNCE Plant Power vegan protein balls* and nuts with fruit are all nutrient rich, 100% plant based snack foods to compliment your flexitarian approach to diet.
*Susie is an official BOUNCE ambassador. This is not sponsored content.